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Houston’s Southern Smoke Foundation Hits $1 Million in Grants Distributed to Food Industry Workers

Plus, a new seafood shack opens this weekend

Photo by Michelle Watson/

Welcome to AM Intel in the time of coronavirus, a round-up of the city’s newest bits of restaurant-related intel. Follow Eater on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date details on how COVID-19 is impacting the city’s dining scene.

Southern Smoke Foundation grants more than $1 million

Southern Smoke Foundation hit a big milestone this week: the Houston organization launched by chef Chris Shepherd just announced that it has granted $1,032,320 to 542 food and beverage workers who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have so many people to thank,” executive director Kathryn Lott said in a release. “The Restaurant Workers Community Foundation is donating 50 percent of everything they raise to Southern Smoke. Tito’s, Angel’s Envy, the Houston Texans, Mill Scale, Karbach, Lone Star, Lexus, not to mention the hundreds and hundreds of individuals who have donated $5 to $5,000 to us. We can’t thank everyone enough for supporting us and helping us get these funds into the hands of people who truly need it.”

The foundation’s received more than 22,000 applications for help, and more than 40 screeners and case workers are actively working to process these applications. Earlier this month, Southern Smoke announced it had granted $607,000 to 312 people.

Millie’s Kitchen & Cocktails opens tomorrow

The owner behind Ritual, Lola, Blackbird Izakaya and more Houston restaurants is going through with a spring opening for his newest project, despite the coronavirus health crisis. CultureMap Houston reports that Ken Bridge will open Millie’s Kitchen & Cocktails for takeout lunch and dinners starting on Friday, April 24. Located in the former Oak Forest Chill space at 3542 Oak Forest Drive, the restaurant is inspired by East Coast seafood shacks — think fried clams and lobster rolls.

JuiceLand is hiring in Houston

Amidst all the gloomy layoff news, Texas chain JuiceLand reports that it is hiring across the state after receiving a Paycheck Protection Loan last week. That includes hiring employees for West University in Houston: apply here if interested. The hope is to reopen more locations as soon as possible.